As you might have guessed by the sight of darkness coming earlier and a bitter chill in the air, hockey season is officially upon us. Tonight the Red Wings will fittingly raise their 11th Stanley Cup banner to the rafters before a game against the next team in line amongst all-time Cup winners. It is also fitting that this game is against the same Maple Leafs team which seemingly has not played a game in Detroit since Doug Gilmour and Felix Potvin were wearing the blue and white sweater. Even with the Leafs struggling and in a current state of flux this is still a great rivalry and bound to be a great game.
Tonight begins a long journey that Wings fans have been waiting to relive since those final seconds in the Igloo. Detroit is favored almost unanimously to win the Cup for a 12th time this season, just in time to decide the fate of a number of fan favorites namely Zetterberg. Much like another certain sports franchise in Detroit owned by Mr. Ilitch, this team too carries the weight of tremendous expectations on their shoulders. For goodness sake, this team has to make a decision whether Marian Hossa or Henrik Zetterberg will join Rafalski, Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Holmstrom on power plays. That’s like asking a dog which treat they like best – it doesn’t matter, this team is incredible with either player alone in the lineup.
2008-9 is supposed to be the year that the Canadiens end a 16-year streak and win the Cup in their 100th year of existence. This is supposed to be the year which an Original Six rivalry is renewed between these two storied franchises for hockey’s greatest prize. This scenario is nothing new to Wings fans who have seen media members find any and every reason not to support them this season. For the fans of this town, the only result in June will be Gary Bettman saying… “Nick Lidstrom, come and raise the Stanley Cup.”